Old Bank Drift NZ 563183
New Bank Drift NZ 566186
Trustee Drift NZ 560180
Lovell Drift Fan House (SS Castle) NZ 58041887

Working Life

1850 – 1929 : Bolckow, Vaughan and Company
1929 – 1949 : Dorman Long and Company

These were the most prolific mines in Cleveland with an output over 99 years of around 63 million tons of ironstone and employed hundreds of miners, and yet such extensive mines have left few remains and what is left is prone to vandalism and sheer neglect.

CMHS Activity

Society members have been recording by measurement and photography mining remains on the hillside above Eston. At the overgrown site of the original drift opened in 1851 a hauling engine house was surveyed during 2012. The remains appear to comprise the foundations of an early engine house, perhaps dating from 1851, modified in the 1880s then extensively modernised about 1910.

A different solution was adopted at the top of the New Incline where massive foundations remain from another rope haulage engine. When this was replaced early in the twentieth century a completely new engine house and equipment was built to replace it. Nearby are the remains of the building which housed the first Guibal ventilating fan to be installed in the area, in 1869. At 37 feet in diameter (7.3m) the fan was even bigger than the well known ‘S.S. Castle’ above Wilton which was only 30 feet in diameter, but its site is overgrown and easily overlooked.

As time and opportunity permits other sites in the locality will be examined and recorded.

Current Images

Largest in Cleveland were the Eston Mines and this Guibal fanhouse was built in 1871 to ventilate part of them. This is an access way into the drift behind the fan.
Photo by Emma Cook
This distinctive reinforcing ironwork is why the building is known locally as the “SS Castle.”
Photo by Emma Cook
Access steps to the engine room.
Photo by Emma Cook
Interior of the engine house which contained two horizontal steam engines, one always in reserve in case the first one broke down as any failure of the ventilation could be catastrophic. The fan itself was in the compartment through the arch.
Photo by Emma Cook
At the left outside the engine house were three boilers supplied with coal by a spur off the pit tramway from New Bank Top.
Photo by Emma Cook
A rope-hauled railway served the various drifts and quarries along the north side of the Eston Hills and passed beneath an important track through this bridge dated 1871.
Photo by Emma Cook
Beside the railway is this small fanhouse built to ventilate a limited area of workings in the early twentieth century.
Photo by Emma Cook
Near New Bank Top these concrete structures remain from the rope haulage system.
Photo by Emma Cook

Archive Images

New Bank Incline
New Bank Incline
Old Bank Top
Old Bank Top
New Bank Top
New Bank Top

Further Details

Diagram of Endless Rope Haulage at Eston by Wilhelm Hildenbrand (The Underground Haulage of Coal by Wire Ropes, 1884)
A Century In Stone by Craig Hornby (Pancrack Productions)
Eston and Normanby Ironstone Mines by Richard Pepper (Cleveland Ironstone Series)
Ironstone Mining In Eston – W.E. Brighton (Cleveland Ironstone Series)
Fredrick Greenwood’s Royalty Eston Mines 1853-1870 – Richard Pepper (CIAS 27)
Eston Mines – Richard Pepper (Cleveland Industrial Heritage 12)
Eston Mines – Lowther Royalty – Richard Pepper(Cleveland Industrial Heritage 25 & 26)
Eston Mines – Face to Furnace – Richard Pepper(Cleveland Industrial Heritage 30)

7 thoughts on “Eston

  1. Hi,
    How do I find out if my great grandfather and grandfather worked at the Eston mines
    I have been told that my grandfather was nicknamed Sammy although why nobody in the family knows why. Some one said that the chaps that provided the explosives to the miners were called Sammy, is there a link?
    My Great grandfather was called John Barnes he was a bricklayer,
    My grandfather was called William Barnes

    • You may want to enquire at the council records office to check on birth/death certificates for info on occupation. Each certificate will cost you, not sure how much they are these days.
      “Sammy” was the name the miners gave to the explosive Sabulite. And the miners obtained that and black powder from “The Powder Monkey” at the Powder Magazine.

      FAO Site Admin: I have revamped the A Century in Stone pages on my site so you might wanna add the updated link to the links list above. cheers.

  2. Pingback: Week Six: Geographic Location

  3. hey, ever since I was about 7 my grandad has told stories about our heritage up eston hills, our family lived at pit top, supposedly there is only a front door step left to this day, our last name was the smiths if anyone has any info could you please write back id love to learn more about my past.

  4. Just a note to say I have revamped my website and it now features a microsite for ‘A Century in Stone’ –

    Not all pages are complete at time of writing but should be soon. Will feature info about the accompanying Century book I am working on…all being well will be published in 2024 to mark 20 years since the film was made. How time flies!

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